BY HEATHER WRIGHT — Dr. Trevor Liburd is a well-educated and talented man. Originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, he has a doctorate and two master’s degrees. He’s an adjunct professor at Bowie State University, currently teaching a special education course to undergraduates majoring in early childhood special education. He is bilingual in English and Spanish, and he plays the piano. Meet the new principal of West Hyattsville’s Edward M. Felegy Elementary School (Felegy).
Felegy opened in 2014 with Walter Reap as its principal. Reap recently became the principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore, and Liburd was hired as his replacement. Liburd left a position as assistant principal of South Lake Elementary School, in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) system, in order to undertake this new endeavor.
Notably, Liburd actually started his teaching career with Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). In 1996, he became a social studies and Spanish teacher at Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro. In 2002, Liburd transferred to MCPS. He worked in MCPS as a high school social studies teacher, an elementary school special education teacher, an instructional specialist, and a pupil personnel worker before becoming the assistant principal of South Lake Elementary in Gaithersburg in 2013.
Liburd is a resident of College Park, however, and stayed connected with colleagues in PGCPS while working for MCPS. In an interview, Liburd said, “I was recruited to return to Prince George’s County as a principal.” He said he was attracted to Felegy because it was very similar to South Lake Elementary, in terms of having a majority Hispanic population and receiving Title 1 support. “I’m very familiar with the programs and initiatives that [support] our Title 1, our high needs schools. I found it to be a match, a great match.”
Another way in which it would seem a great match is in terms of the arts integration focus of the school and its Creative and Performing Arts program. Liburd described how he began training on the piano at age seven. He is also a singer. Having been a member of various school bands and choirs, Liburd said he comes in with a “love for the arts and appreciation of the arts.”
Liburd described both an arts-related and an academic vision for Felegy. He said one of his visions was “that the school would continue to thrive and be that model school for creative and performing arts in the school district.” Liburd wanted Felegy to be the school “that other schools would come and visit and would learn from what we’re doing here to infuse the arts into our daily instruction.”
Liburd also said he wanted “to accelerate the reading and math performance of our students.” He described how many of their students were coming from homes where English “is not the major language.” Liburd said he wanted students “coming in with language deficits to have a solid understanding of the academic vocabulary; that way they are able to access the content and to make meaning,”
Liburd focused on the overall development of his students, not just on their academic skills. He said, “I want them to develop as a child, as a whole.” He continued, “I want them to not only be successful in their academics but in all aspects of their life: their academics, their social life, their social-emotional well-being.” Liburd wanted students to see him as “being relentless to meet their needs, to address those barriers to learning, and to open the way for as many opportunities that can be afforded to them as students.”